Legislative Update

Thursday, February 16, 2017
February 16, 2017 Legislative Update

EQUALITY

State Democrats push to repeal HB 2 and adopt nondiscrimination laws

This week, members of the minority party continued a push to repeal HB 2, with several proposals filed.  The bills included a compromise announced by Governor Roy Cooper which would roll back the bathroom bill while tightening sentences for crimes committed in locker-rooms and restrooms.  Additionally, bills to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment and establish an Anti-Discrimination Act were filed.

Sponsored by Reps. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe), John Autry (D-Mecklenburg) and Deb Butler (D-New Hanover) and Sens. Jay Chaudhuri (D-Wake), Mike Woodard (D-Durham) and Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe) HB 82/ SB 84: Equality for All/ Repeal HB 2 would repeal HB 2 without a “cooling-off” period and:

  • Updates a number of anti-discrimination laws to include: age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, gender identity and sexuality. Non-discrimination laws addressing education, insurance, housing and employment would be addressed.
  • Establishes that public spaces must provide appropriate accommodations to individuals without discrimination. This provision also clarifies that bathrooms and changing facilities are provided based on a person’s gender identity.
  • Appropriates $788K annually to the Department of Administration, Human Relations Commission, for personnel.

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill have been sent to Rules committees.

Another repeal to HB 2 with no “cooling-off period”, HB 107/ SB 93: Common Sense Compromise to Repeal HB 2, aims to provide a compromise between the two caucuses on the divisive law. Proposed by Governor Cooper and sponsored by Sens. Dan Blue (D-Wake) and Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe) and Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake), the bill would repeal HB 2, require all local governments to provide the General Assembly with a 30-day notice before adopting a nondiscrimination ordinance that extends beyond state law and enhances sentences for certain violent and sexual crimes committed in a changing room or restroom. The bill has not received a committee referral yet.

Other bills filed included HB 99: The Anti-Discrimination Act of 2017. Sponsored by Reps. Rodney Moore (D-Mecklenburg), Kelly Alexander (D-Mecklenburg), Cecil Brockman (D-Guilford) and Amos Quick (D-Guilford), HB 99 prohibits discriminatory profiling by law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties. Moreover, the bill would require the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to report traffic stops that were made to determine immigration status, additional statistics on homicides and require law enforcement officers to participate in annual discriminatory profiling training and education. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary III Committee.

Additionally, Reps. Carla Cunningham (D-Mecklenburg), Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe), Evelyn Terry (D-Forsyth) and John Ager (D-Buncombe) filed HB 102: NC Adopt Equal Rights Amendment on Tuesday.  The bill is in response to the United States Congress’ 1972 Equal Rights Amendment, which guarantees equal rights to men and women.  However, in 1982, North Carolina, along with 14 other states failed to meet the ratification deadline of the Amendment.  HB 102 would ratify the Amendment to the US Constitution – bringing the US one state closer to adopting the Amendment, if Congress removed the deadline.  HB 102 has not received a committee referral.  

 

EDUCATION

HB 39: Amend Appointments/ UNC Bd of Governors

Poised to become the first session law of the 2017-18 session, HB 39: Amend Appointments/ UNC Bd of Governors headed to the Senate floor on Thursday. If signed by Governor Cooper, HB 39 will amend the composition of the UNC Board of Governors. The Board, which oversees the UNC system, will be reduced from 32 members to 24 in a four year time span. The legislature has expedited the passage of HB 39 in order to meet a legislative deadline to make the 2017 round of appointments. HB 39 is sponsored by Reps. David Lewis (R-Harnett), John Fraley (R-Iredell), Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe) and Darren Jackson (D-Wake).

HB 87: ESSA Plan Submission

In December of 2015, former President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, the replacement to No Child Left Behind. Under the law, every state must submit a state plan by September 18, 2017. In response, Reps. Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes), Kyle Hall (R-Stokes) and Pat Hurley (R-Randolph) filed a bill that would require the State Board of Education to delay plan submission until the last possible date. HB 87: ESSA Plan Submission has been referred to the House K-12 Education Committee.

HB 117: Protect Students in Schools

Sponsored by Reps. Harry Warren (R-Rowan), Beverly Boswell (R-Dare), John Faircloth (R-Guilford) and Craig Horn (R-Union), HB 117: Protect Students in Schools would enhance criminal background check requirements for teachers and other personnel in public and public charter schools, including charter school boards of directors. The bill has not received a committee referral yet.

 

TAXES & REVENUES

SB 75: Const. Amd. – Max. Income Tax Rate of 5.5%

A bill to constitutionally cap state income tax rates at 5.5% was filed by Sens. Tommy Tucker (R-Union), Andrew Brock (R-Davie) and Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) on Wednesday. SB 75: Const. Amd. – Max. Income Tax Rate of 5.5% would require legislative approval by three fifths of both the House and Senate and voter approval in the November 2018 statewide elections. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

SB 81: Sales Tax Economic Nexus for Remote Sales

Sponsored by Sens. Tommy Tucker (R-Union), Andrew Brock (R-Davie) and Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) SB 81: Sales Tax Economic Nexus for Remote Sales would establish that out of state retailers with gross sales in excess of $100,000 or 200 or more separate transactions are subject to state sales tax collection. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

SB 82: Revenue Laws Technical Changes

Sens. Tommy Tucker (R-Union), Andrew Brock (R-Davie) and Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) filed SB 82: Revenue Laws Technical Changes on Wednesday, the companion bill to HB 59, sponsored by Reps. Bill Brawley (R-Mecklenburg), Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) and John Szoka (R-Cumberland). The bill would make a number of clarification and changes to revenue laws. The House version of the bill has been referred to the House Finance Committee and the Senate version was sent to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

 

TRANSPORTATION

HB 91/ SB 66: Require Safety Helmets/ Under 21

Sponsored by Reps. John Torbett (R-Gaston) and Michael Speciale (R-Beaufort) and Sen. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland), HB 91/ SB 66: Require Safety Helmets/ Under 21 would allow individuals over the age of 21 to ride and operate motorcycles without a protective helmet. The Senate version of the bill was sent to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate while the House version was referred to the House Committee on Transportation.

HB 92: Blue Ribbon Committee/ Transportation Funding

Sponsored by Reps. John Torbett (R-Gaston) and Scott Stone (R-Mecklenburg) HB 92: Blue Ribbon Committee/ Transportation Funding would create a 20 member Blue Ribbon Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Funding. The Committee would be tasked with studying all options available, including debt instruments, revenue changes, local government participation and tolling to increase funding for the transportation infrastructure needs of NC. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation.

SB 92: Maintenance Bond for Subdivision Roads

A bill that would establish a maintenance bond process for subdivision roads was filed by Sens. Louis Pate and Don Davis on Wednesday. SB 92: Maintenance Bond for Subdivision Roads would allow counties to adopt a subdivision control ordinance for public transportation improvements. The bill has not received a committee referral yet.

 

VETERANS & MILITARY AFFAIRS

This year, members of the General Assembly are continuing efforts to make NC the most military family and veteran family state in the country. Two bills to ease occupational licensing burdens on military families were considered in committee this week.

Sponsored by Reps. John Szoka (R-Cumberland), Grier Martin (D-Wake) and Holly Grange (R-New Hanover) HB 57: Enact Physical Therapy Licensure Compact would establish a physical therapy licensure compact to facilitate the interstate practice of physical therapy and specifically eases licensure burdens for military members and family members. The bill received a favorable report for the House Health Committee and will be sent to the House Finance Committee next.

Similar to HB 57, SB 8: Ease Occ. Lic. Burdens on Military Families would allow military members and family who have recently been assigned to a base in NC to more easily practice a licensed occupation in the state. The bill, which is sponsored by Sens. Andy Wells (R-Catawba), Harry Brown (R-Onslow) and Louis Pate (R-Wayne), would allow military members and their family who practice licensed occupations – such as massage therapists, real estate agents, adult care administrators and a number of other careers – to be granted a temporary one year license to practice while meeting NC’s licensure requirements and eliminates the fees associated with obtaining a license. After receiving a favorable report from the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Posted by: Kerri A. Burke, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Thursday, February 9, 2017
February 9, 2017 Legislative Update

North Carolina’s legislative session kick-off to a slow start and a temporary delay

The North Carolina General Assembly rolled into its second week of the legislative session introducing 17 bills – a slow start compared to 35 bills filed on the same week of last year. As committees begin to consider legislation, Gov. Roy Cooper also face challenges that will delay the confirmation of 10 Cabinet secretaries. After asking a three-judge panel late Monday to block enforcement of House Bill 17, the court issued an opinion prohibiting the Cabinet secretaries’ Senate confirmation hearing – originally scheduled for Wednesday. 

In response, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger delivered a statement explaining, “In a gross misreading of the Constitution and a blatant overstep of their constitutional authority, three Superior Court judges attempted to dictate to the legislature when it could or could not hold committee meetings and what it could or could not consider in those meetings…” 

Moving forward, the three-judge panel will hold a preliminary injunction hearing on Friday to decide whether or not to extend the temporary block of the law until a decision is finalized. 

HB 17 was passed in the fourth special session of 2016 and requires a Senate confirmation hearing for the governor-appointed Cabinet secretaries.

House considers various education proposals

House education committees have been busy this week introducing legislation that would impact both the public school system and the University of North Carolina.

  • HB 13: Class Size Requirement Changes passed the House Education, K-12 committee on Tuesday, and has been sent to Appropriations. The bill is an attempt to correct the issues regarding class size requirements that were passed in the previous session. Under this legislation, schools would be able to return to the previous flexibility offered for the teacher student allotment ratio, which is +/-3 over the current allotment of one teacher per 18 students.

 

  • HB 39: Amend Appointments/UNC Board of Governors passed its second and third readings in the House chambers on Wednesday, and has been sent to the Senate. The bill would decrease the number of members appointed to the UNC Board of Governors by the General Assembly for a two year term from 16 to 12. This would ultimately reduce the size of the board from 36 to 24 members. Proponents of the legislation believe a smaller board will bring in more focused and dedicated members. Opponents believe a smaller board could limit the representation of the system’s historically black colleges and universities and smaller institutions.

 

Senate Democrats file HB2 repeal

SB 25: Repeal HB 2: After the failed attempt to repeal HB 2 last year, SB 25 is the first bill filed to address the controversial “bathroom bill.” Filed by Sens. Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg), Angela Bryant (D-Nash) and Floyd McKissick (D-Durham), SB 25 would repeal the bill in its entirety and without any further stipulations. Republican leadership has indicated that some compromises, such as a six-month cooling off period may be necessary to pass changes to the bill. SB 25 has been referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

 

House proposes new changes to E-Verify laws

HB 35: Protect North Carolina Workers Act would modify the state’s E-Verify laws to require that any person, business or other organization that employs five or more employees must participate in the federal E-Verify program. Current law requires the use of E-Verify for businesses that employ 25 or more employees. The bill would repeal an exemption for temporary employees while adding exemptions for farm workers, independent contractors and individuals who provide sporadic domestic services, such as cleaning services, in a private home. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Commerce and Job Development.

 

House address environmental changes to dams

HB 56: Amend Environmental Laws was referred to the House committee on Environment Wednesday. The legislation, would implement additional emergency procedures for intermediate and high hazard dams. The bill would require the owners of dams that have been classified as “intermediate and high hazard” to submit an emergency action plan to the Department of Environmental Quality within 90 days of receiving its classification. The plan must include potential emergency conditions and security risks should the damn fail, and a description of a plan of action, warning and evacuation in an emergency situation. The emergency action plan will also include a map of the area that could be damaged by potential dam failure.

 

House & Senate propose eminent domain changes

The House and Senate have filed companion bills to propose an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution. If passed, SB 34/HB 3: Eminent Domain Constitutional Amendment would be on the ballot in the November 2018 election. The amendment would forbid the condemnation of private property with an exception for land for public use. The amendment would also facilitate a process for the payment of just compensation for the property, and establish the right to trial by jury in all condemnation cases.

House Finance Committee begins work on tax changes
The House Finance Committee held its first committee this week, outlining key priorities for new members, including reducing the franchise and mill machinery manufacturing taxes. Currently North Carolina has a franchise tax of .15 percent, predicted to generate $700 million this year. The mill machinery tax is applicable to a wide array of equipment manufacturers purchase and is expected to generate $51 million this year. Rep. Brawley, Co-Chair of the committee also presented on priorities to lower the corporate income tax rate by expanding the base of services taxed. The House introduced HB59: Revenue Laws Technical Corrections Wednesday afternoon, of which addresses the franchise tax and the motorsports sales and use tax refund.

Other Bills of Note

Small Business Income Tax Cut
http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/House/PDF/H61v0.pdf

City of Charlotte-Firefighters/Retirement
http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2017&BillID=H58

Mortgage Tax Reduction (Campaign issue, lowering taxes, strong sponsor list)
http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/House/PDF/H54v0.pdf

Auto Insurance Reform
http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/House/PDF/H43v1.pdf

Law Enforcement & Municipal Protections (http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/House/PDF/H37v1.pdf

Medical Care Commission & Hospital Construction http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/Senate/PDF/S42v0.pdf

 

Posted by: Kerri A. Burke, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
July 13, 2016 Legislative Update

Charlotte Chamber Remained Diligently Focused on Job Creation Agenda

The 2016 General Assembly may have been “short” but during the 68 jam-packed days of the
legislature, the Charlotte Chamber worked around the clock to advance our job creation package.
Your chamber reviewed and tracked all pieces of legislation introduced, while advocating for all policies affecting the state’s economic competitiveness for job creators.  Review a summary of legislation tracked during the session.

Below is a summary of highlight of legislation passed from the Charlotte Chamber’s legislative agenda:

The Charlotte Chamber creates competitive advantage by growing the economy, advocating pro-business public policies and delivering innovative programs and services.

Job Creation

  • Crowdfunding: Legalization for entrepreneurs and investors to engage in crowdfunding opportunities.
  • International Job Recruiting: Establishment of a new International Recruiting Coordination Office within the Department of Commerce.
  • Travel & Tourism Marketing: Budget appropriation of $1 million for the Department of Commerce to use for marketing and advertising to promote state economic development.
  • Natural Gas Infrastructure: Allows natural gas companies to permit extension fees for economic development projects.
  • Intellectual Property: Statutory clarification that NC employers are the owners of company created inventions.
  • Film Grants: Extension of the $30 million grant for the film industry for one year.
  • Unemployment Insurance (UI) Reforms: Delay of UI tax increase on employers.
  • JDIG: Budget specifications to appropriate funds needed to make JDIG requirements and revisions to the economic tier formula for inter-tier cooperation projects.
  • Connect NC Bonds: Funding for administration of the Connect NC Bond.
  • Coal Ash Reform/Energy Costs: Permits the state to pursue safe and affordable options for the state’s coal ash basins.

Taxes

  • Income/Small Business Tax Reforms: Standard deductions for personal incomes taxes were increased from $15,5000 to $16,500 (joint filers) and $7,750 to $8,750 (single filers)
  • Sales Tax Reform: Implementation of a grace period for employers subject to the state sales tax changes covering repair, installation and maintenances of tangible personal property.
  • Market-Based Sourcing: Postponement on market-based sourcing tax rules, directing the Department of Revenue to implement rules IF legislation is passed. The current tax code allocated income based on where the income-producing activity occurs, under market-based sourcing, the tax would be determined where the benefit of the service is received.

Transportation

  • Strategic Transportation Investment Law (STI)-Appropriation of $32 million in new funds allocated to STI.
  • DOT Reforms: Changes to current transportation, motor vehicle, and driving laws. The bill includes changes to commercial driver’s licenses, remote renewal for drivers licenses, bicycle safety laws, and inspection requirements for pre-1981 vehicles. In response to the recent NC Supreme Court ruling, the bill also made adjustments to the Map Act, including a one-year moratorium on new maps under the Map Act.

Regulatory Reform

  • Information Technology (IT) Contractors & Liability: Limits IT contractor liability thresholds to federal government and surrounding state standards.
  • Agricultural Reform: Adopts provisions regarding pollution control of sedimentation and ends a permitting requirement for certain installations, repairs, and alterations of farm and residential buildings.
  • Land-Use: Adjustments to city and county land use regulations, local zoning ordinances, and other North Carolina land use laws. The bill includes performance guarantees as well.

Education

  • Online Data: Restrictions on the release of student data by independent educational applications, except for permissible or with the consent of individual parents.
  • Salary Statistics: Requirements for the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority to provide employment and salary statistics for different majors offered at public and private colleges and universities. The legislation is aimed at providing students and families with access to information to assist them in selecting a major.

 

 

Posted by: Kerri A. Burke, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Monday, July 11, 2016
July 11, 2016 Legislative Update

Dust Settles After General Assembly Adjournment, What Happened?

The General Assembly adjourned during the late evening of July 1st with a flurry of action. Following adjournment, Governor Pat McCrory has 30 days to sign or veto all bills that made it to his desk prior to adjournment. If the Governor fails to take action after 30 days, the bill becomes law.

 

What Passed?

Budget

The House and Senate reached a final agreement on HB 1030: 2016 Appropriations Act. The budget has been sent to the Governor for his approval. Click here to read more about the final budget agreement.

Education

HB 242: Various Charter School Law Changes makes changes to laws governing charter schools. Among the provisions, the bill amends the charter school approval process, performance grading system, and enrollment.

In early June, the Governor signed HB 632: Student Online Protection Act into law. The law restricts the release of student data by independent educational applications, except for permissible or with the consent of individual parents.

HB 1080: Achievement School Districts establishes an Achievement School District pilot, which will include five of the qualifying low-performing schools in the state.

SB 536: Students Know Before You Go & Central Resid. requires the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority to provide employment and salary statistics for different majors offered at public and private colleges and universities. The legislation is aimed at providing students and families with access to information to assist them in selecting a major.

Employment Law

As an effort to calculate the number of veterans in the state, SB 105 : Report No. Veterans Filing Tax Returns requires the Secretary of Revenue to collect information on the number of individuals in the state that identify as a veteran on their tax return. The findings will be reported to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

SB 482: LLC Clarifications & Emp. Invention Ownership makes technical adjustments to the Limited Liability Company Act and clarifies an employee’s and the employer’s rights to an invention created by the employee during employment.

Energy & Environment

The House and Senate approved HB 630: Drinking Water Protection/ Coal Ash Cleanup Act last week. Among its provisions, HB 630 repeals the Coal Ash Management Commission, and mandates Duke Energy to provide permanent sources of drinking water to those affected by coal ash.

SB 673: Natural Gas/ Econ Dev./Infrastructure will allow natural gas companies to recoup line extension fees if they meet certain economic development thresholds. The company must propose to or have invested a minimum of $200 million, and employ at least 1,500 individuals to be eligible.

SB 770: Farm Act of 2016 includes provisions regarding pollution control of sedimentation and ends a permitting requirement for certain installations, repairs, and alterations of farm and residential buildings.

HB 483: Land-Use Regulatory Changes makes adjustments to city and county land use regulations, local zoning ordinances, and other North Carolina land use laws. The bill includes performance guarantees as well.

Finance

SB 726: Internal Revenue Code Update, which was signed by the Governor in June, conforms state law to federal legislation, Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015. SB 726 does not, however, implement all of the federal tax deductions, such as deductions on mortgage insurance premiums and college and university tuition expenses.

The House and Senate passed legislation making technical changes to North Carolina’s revenue laws. SB 803: Rev Laws Technical, Clarifying, & Admin. Chg. makes clarifying adjustments to various income, sales, and local tax statutes. The legislation is an effort to clarify the application and exemptions under current tax law.

The Governor signed SB 807: Conform Full-payment Check Law to UCC into law late last month. The bill, which was recommended by the General Statutes Commission, removes an exception to the 90-day repayment option for claimants of debt, and brings state law in compliance with the Uniform Commercial Code.

Health & Human Services

The General Assembly passed SB 838: Medicaid Transformation Modifications. The bill adjusts the 2015 law HB 372: Medicaid Transformation & Reorganization, by making various clarifying changes to the law and implements recommendations made by the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

HB 842: Medicaid Waiver Protections/ Military Families will allow dependents of an active duty service member to keep their Medicaid waiver eligibility status when the service member is transferred to a different state. The dependent of the service member can keep their eligibility status as long as they keep legal residence in North Carolina.

Insurance

HB 287: Amend Insurance Laws was signed into law by the Governor last week. The bill places a 15% cap on long-term insurance policies, instructs the Department of Insurance to construct a private market for flood insurance, as well as other statutory changes.

Information Technology

SB 792: State IT Contracts/Contractor Liability limits the liability of state contractors. The legislation puts a cap on the liability to no more than two times the amount of the contract. The bill requires that all contracts include the amount of liability that the contractor will assume as well.

SB 805: Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets was signed into law in June. The law allows for disclosure of an individual’s digital assets, such as social media accounts, online banking, and other online accounts, to a trustee, fiduciary, personal representative, or guardian.

SB 814: Designate State CIO as Secretary of Dept. changes the title of the Chief Information Officer to the Secretary of the Department of Information Technology, and states that the Secretary is an appointed position by the governor and a member of the governor’s cabinet.

Justice & Public Safety

Signed into law last month, HB 958: Felony Death Impaired Boating/Sheyenne’s Law increases the penalty for inflicting serious injury or death while operating a boat while impaired. The law goes into effect on December 1, 2016.

HB 972: Law Enforcement Recordings/ Not Public Record, establishes the first statewide policy for the release of state and local law enforcement recordings, such as body camera footage.

HB 1021: Amend Sex Offender Certain Premises adjusts state law to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision in Doe v Cooper. The legislation prohibits sex offenders from being in a place frequently inhabited by minors when minors are present, and prohibits sex offenders on the state fairgrounds during the annual state fair.

State & Local Government

In the final hours of the short session, legislators approved an adjustment to HB 2: Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act. The adjustment, which was included in HB 169: Restore the State Claim for Wrongful Discharge, restores the ability for people to bring discrimination claims to state court and not just federal court. The legislation also reduces the statute of limitations from three years to one.

HB 805: Measurability Assessments/ Budget Tech. Corr. creates a measurability assessment program to provide for independent analyses of state government programs, as well as makes various technical changes legislation, including the state budget, including an allocation $500,000 in state funds to support the state’s litigation defense for HB 2: Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act.

SB 326: Local Gov'ts/Bldgs/Structures/Inspections modifies local government law regarding the inspection of residential buildings. The bill includes provisions that deal with reasonable cause for inspection, property permits, and allowing the sheriff and city police to assist the land lord in addressing crimes committed on private property.

In three unrelated provisions, SB 481: Fund Sm Business/DOR Rulings/City Rt of Way will allow North Carolinians to purchase equity or debt from in state issuers, requires the NC Department of Revenue to publish summaries of private letter rulings on their website within 90 days of written determination, and prohibits cities from charging fees for utility use of right-of-way in most situations.

SB 575: NC/SC Original Boundary Confirmation was signed into law in June and reestablishes the border between North and South Carolina. South Carolina passed similar legislation this year, too.

The House and Senate approved SB 667: Elections Omnibus Revisions last week. The bill will make several changes to current elections law, including mandating the Attorney General to represent the state in legal challenges regarding both state and local elections law, and allows the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division to study the implementation of moving municipal elections to even-numbered years.

Transportation

HB 959: DOT Proposed Legislative Changes makes changes to current transportation, motor vehicle, and driving laws. The bill includes changes to commercial driver’s licenses, remote renewal for drivers licenses, bicycle safety laws, and inspection requirements for pre-1981 vehicles. In response to the recent NC Supreme Court ruling, the bill also made adjustments to the Map Act, including a one-year moratorium on new maps under the Map Act.

 

What Didn’t Pass?

Education

HB 657: Math Standard Course of Study Revisions would have reinstated the “traditional” math course track as an option for students. Had the bill passed both chambers, the legislation would have mandated that public high schools offer the integrated math sequence, Integrated I, II, and III, as well as the traditional sequence of Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II.

SB 53: Private Alternative Teacher Preparation was an effort to create alternative lateral entry programs for teacher preparation. The legislation was aimed at bringing qualified individuals into teaching from other professions.

SB 554: School Building Leases intended to address school facility issues in rural areas by allowing local school boards to enter into agreements with private developers to construct and lease facilities.

Among its provisions, SB 867: Protect Students in Schools would have implemented finger print background checks for all applicants for teaching positions in the state.

Energy & Environment

For the first time since 2011, the legislature failed to pass a comprehensive regulatory reform bill. Both SB 303: Regulatory Reform Act of 2016 and HB 593: Amend Environmental & Other Laws were approved by both chambers and made it to conference committees in order to work out differences between the two chambers, but nothing resulted from the committees. A third regulatory reform bill, HB 169, was stripped of its language hours before adjournment, and was replaced with adjustments to HB 2.

HB 763: Military Operations Protection Act of 2016 would have adjusted the permitting process for wind energy facilities. The bill would have mandated that permits for the construction of wind energy facilities would have to be approved by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The legislation was an effort to protect the flight training paths around North Carolina’s many military installations.

Finance

SB 826: Prosperity & Economic Opportunity for all NC Act would have increased access to capital and tax credits for entrepreneurs across the state. The bill was directed at assisting Tier 1 and 2 counties, which are the more economically distressed areas of the state.

Health & Human Services

HB 821: Proper Administration of Step Therapy would have mandated health insurance companies to create a step therapy program for the administration of medicine. After receiving several hearings in House committees, the bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), chose to pull the bill for the rest of the session.

Additionally, the Senate Health Care committee discussed a bill draft that would have repealed the state’s certificate of need law, but was never voted on by the committee.

State & Local Government

HB 3: Omnibus Constitutional Amendments failed to pass through both chambers in the final hours of session. The bill would have put three constitutional amendments on November’s ballot: limiting eminent domain for public use only, capping the income tax at 5.5%, and declaring hunting and fishing a constitutional right.

HB 100: Local Government Immigration Compliance would have implemented penalties for municipalities and counties that failed to comply with federal immigration laws. If a municipality or county were found to not be in compliance with federal immigration law, the state could withhold funds for school and road construction among others.

In the final hours of session, a federal court ruled that the voting districts for the Wake County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education, modified by state law in 2015, are unconstitutional. Leaders in both chambers stated that there was not enough time to address the Wake County maps before adjournment. The Wake County Board of Elections, as the defendant in the case, has been meeting this week to decide whether they will appeal the court's decision or will find a way to comply. Until this is solved, it leaves the maps in limbo for the November election.

Transportation

In early June, the House passed HB 954: Terminate Agreement for Tolling of I-77, which would have terminated the contract between the state and Cintra, the company contracted to construct toll lanes on I-77, outside of Charlotte. Ultimately, the bill was never approved by the Senate. 

 

Posted by: Kerri A. Burke, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
July 6, 2016 Legislative Update

General Assembly Adjourns “Short Session”…

The North Carolina General Assembly had a strong push towards the finish line last week, and met their self-imposed deadline, adjourning late June 1st.  The last week of session was a flurry of action, including finalization of the state budget and bills. Several large bills passed during the final week, while several died at the 11th hour.

House & Senate Pass State Budget Adjustments

The General Assembly passed, HB 1030: 2016 Appropriations Act before adjourningThe Senate signed off on the agreement on Wednesday, on a vote of 36-14, with all Republicans and two Democrats voting for the proposal. With 19 House Democrats voting with the Republicans, the House approved HB 1030 on a vote of  91-22. The budget is currently on the Governor’s desk for his review.

The $22.34 billion budget includes:

State Employee Raises:

  • Average 4.7% teacher salary raises.
  • 1.5% pay increases and a .5% bonus for all state employees, plus a merit pay fund to be distributed based on performance.
  • 6% one-time bonuses for state retirees.

Agriculture & Natural Resources:

  • $8.6 million to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
  • $250,000 to increase the availability of fresh agricultural products in food deserts.

Education:

  • $34.8 million for Opportunity Scholarship Reserve Fund.
  • $4.7 million for the implementation of the digital learning plan.
  • $6 million to implement HB 1080: Achievement School District, which passed the legislature earlier this week.
  • Various changes to the rules governing virtual charter schools teaching staff, testing and withdrawal rates.

Health & Human Services:

  • $250,000 for the NC MedAssist pharmaceutical program.
  • Establishes the Healthy Out-of-School Time Recognition Program.
  • Implements a Medication-Assisted Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Pilot Program.
  • Moves up the repeal date of the Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) law to September 30, 2016, originally was January 1, 2018.

Information Technology:

  • Directs the Department of Information Technology to plan and design and implement an enterprise resource planning system.

Taxes:

  • Increases the zero tax brackets for personal income tax.
  • Expands taxation on mill machinery.
  • Enacts Market Based Sourcing.
  • Modifies Repair Maintenance Installation..

Transportation:

  • Provides an additional $32 million in recurring funding for Strategic Transportation Investments.
  • Removes $500,000 funding cap for lightrail projects, with additional restrictions.
  • Revises the Department of Transportation bidding process. 

Click here to read HB 1030 and the accompanying Money Report.

I-77 Managed Lanes Project to Continue
A bill that sought to terminate the contract between the state and Cintra in building a toll lane on I-77 outside of Charlotte has died for the year. HB 954: Terminate Agreement for Tolling of I-77, sponsored by Reps. Charles Jeter (R-Mecklenburg), Mike Hager (R-Rutherford) and John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg), passed the House earlier this month by an 81-27 vote, but will not be moving in the Senate this year after the Senate Republican Caucus announced that they voted to not move the bill forward this year. It is still possible that similar legislation could surface in next year’s long session.  With the adjournment of this year’s session, all bills calling for the cancellation of the contract are dead for this session including HB 950 introduced by Rep. Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg).                                

Constitutional Amendments

The Senate introduced a committee substitute to HB 3: Omnibus Constitutional Amendments, which would place the following amendments on the ballot November 2016 ballot:

  • Eminent Domain: would provide that private property shall not be taken as eminent domain except for public use and that any party may request a jury to determine and ensure just compensation.
  • Taxpayer Protections: would cap the state income tax rate at 5.5% and provide for the establishment of an Emergency Savings Reserve Fund.
  • Right to Hunt, Fish, and Harvest Wildlife: would protect the people’s right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife in the state. The amendment would have no bearing on existing hunting, fishing, or firearms law.

The Senate approved the legislation but the House did not take up the bill before adjourning.

Education Policy Changes Debated Before Adjournment

Numerous education related bills were considered before adjourning, including:

HB 1080: Achievement School Districts received final approval from both chambers this week after the Senate made several changes. The bill, which is sponsored by Reps. Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg), Cecil Brockman (D-Guilford), and John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg), will allow private charter school companies to take over some of the state’s lowest performing public schools.

The changes made by the Senate include:

  • Directs the State Board of Education to authorize the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education to create an innovation zone to include up to five low-performing area schools.
  • Clarifies that, after five years of operation, the State Board of Education can extend the contract with the Achievement School operator for an additional three-year term if the school remains a qualifying school, but has exceeded the average annual growth of other achievement schools and has shown academic growth over the period of the contract.
  • Removes the principal turnaround model from the bill.

The bill has been sent to the Governor for his signature.

HB 1074: Schools/ CC Facilities Test for Lead, which is sponsored by Reps. Mike Hager (R-Rutherford), Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg), Justin Burr (R-Stanly) and Charles Jeter (R-Mecklenburg), resurfaced in the House this week with numerous changes. The legislation would require the drinking water in all public schools and child care facilities constructed before 1987 to be tested for lead. The legislation also allows the state to test the water in public swimming pools and water recreation attractions; this addition was made after a teenager succumbed to a rare waterborne amoeba after participating in a whitewater rafting excursion in Charlotte. The bill unanimously passed the House but did not pass the Senate.

If passed, SB 554: School Building/ Leases, sponsored by Sens. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland), David Curtis (R-Lincoln) and Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) would allow local boards of education to consolidate rural schools in order to reduce costs. Additionally, the bill includes a provision which would require the State Board of Education to provide decisions on fast-track replication applications for successful charter schools within 120 days. The bill did not pass the House.

A bill that unanimously passed the Senate in early June received updates within the House Finance committee. SB 867: Protect Students in Schools, primarily sponsored by Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Wake), passed the Senate as a bill that would require criminal background checks for teacher licensure and school personnel employment. While that part of the bill still exists, the House added the following provisions:

  • Also requires board members of nonprofits seeking approval to establish a charter school from the State Board of Education to go through a background check.
  • Requires the State Board of Education to create a database for certain school personnel to report catastrophic illnesses and injuries and concussions involving student athletes.
  • Eliminates low voltage building permit requirements for passive optical networks.
  • Encourages partnerships for digital learning.
  • Requires the State Board of Education to make fast-track replication decisions for charter schools within 120 days. (This provision is also sitting in SB 554, mentioned above.)

The House did not pass the bill before adjourning.

Coal Ash Revisions Pass…Senate Leaves Natural Gas Incentives & Farm Act

The legislature had complex debates on environmental and energy related bills before adjourning:

HB 630: Drinking Water Protection/ Coal Ash Cleanup Act was introduced as a Senate substitute in committee. The legislation does the following:

  • Requires permanent water sources be provided to residents effected by coal ash, at the cost of Duke Energy.
  • Repeals the Coal Ash Management Commission.
  • Modifies the closure requirements for coal ash impoundments, to provide closure methods believed to be less costly to both consumers and Duke Energy.
  • Modifies appointments to both the Mining and the Oil & Gas Commissions.

The bill passed the House and Senate and is currently on the Governor’s desk.

A bill that was introduced as a committee substitute in the House last week, SB 673: Natural Gas/ Economic Development, received approval from the House. The bill provides incentives to natural gas utility companies for the construction of economic development projects in areas where the project would otherwise not be economically feasible. The legislation also lays out the requirements for eligible economic development projects, including that the business:

  • Provides opportunities for natural gas usage and jobs.
  • Invests at least $200 million in private funds to improve or develop property in the area.
  • Employs 1,500 full time employees, and satisfy a wage standard in which employee wages equal at least 110% of the average wage for all private employers in the county.

The bill did not pass the Senate before adjourning.

The Senate voted to concur on the changes made in the House to SB 770: Farm Act of 2016 The House debate was primarily centered on a provision in the bill that extends the sunset for a tax credit for the construction of a renewable fuel facility in Sampson County. The House made several other changes to the bill, addressing cervid feed, sedimentation pollution control, and interconnection requests between public utility distribution systems and renewable energy facilities. The Senate did not pass before adjourning.

House Leaves Step Therapy Changes Until Next Session

In the House Committee on Rules, Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), announced that he would be dropping HB 1048: Reduce Barriers to Improve NC Health & Safety from consideration this year. The bill, which is also sponsored by Reps. Darren Jackson (D-Wake),Gregory Murphy (R-Pitt) and John Dobson (R-McDowell), would have:

  • Provided that health benefit plans may only impose prior authorization on abuse deterrent opioids if the same protocol is taken with a non-abuse deterrent counterpart.
  • Required that the patient and prescribing practitioner  have access to a clear and convenient process for requesting a step therapy override determination, sets out four conditions under which an override determination request be expeditiously granted and requires that when an override determination is granted, the health plan authorize coverage for the drug if it is a covered prescription.

Rep. Lewis announced that the legislation had shed light on the issue of step therapy, and that similar legislation is likely in the upcoming year.

HB2 & Budget Technical Corrections

HB 805: Measurability Assessments/ Budget Tech. Corr., sponsored by Reps. Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke) and Marilyn Avila (R-Wake), includes the following changes:

  • Appropriates $500,000 for the state’s defense of HB 2: Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act
  • Amends a provision in the budget concerning lab school funding, and provides for equal per-pupil funding except for the allocation for children with disabilities, limited English proficiency and for transportation services.

In addition, the House and Senate passed a proposal dealing with HB2, within HB169, that reinstates the right to sue for discrimination claims in state courts, revising the state of limitations to one year, instead of three years. 

House & Senate Pass MAP Act Changes

Both the House and Senate adopted the conference report to HB 959: DOT Proposed Legislative Changes, which is sponsored Reps. Frank Iler (R-Brunswick) and John Torbett (R-Gaston). The conference report includes the following changes:

  • Addresses the Map Act in accordance with the recent state Supreme Court decision. The legislation rescinds all current maps, places a one year moratorium on creating new maps under the act, changes rates from 8% to prime rates, and creates a study for how to move forward.
  • Various changes to automobile and moped insurance regulation.
  • Decreases the minimum age required to operate an unmanned aircraft system for commercial purposes from 17-years-old to 16-years-old.
  • Deletes a proposed revision to allow the Freight Rail & Rail Crossing Safety Improvement Fund to be used for the enhancement of short-line railroad assistance.
Posted by: Kerri A. Burke, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
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